CILS Board and Staff Retreat

California Indian Legal Services held our Board and Staff Retreat at the new Sycuan Casino Resort on December 6th and 7th. It was a fantastic weekend of strategic planning for CILS with the Board and Staff. Looking at what the next five years of Federal Indian Law will bring and reflecting on all the excellent work that has been done. Sycuan Casino Resort generously hosted it in their beautiful new facility. Tribal support is essential to CILS and contributes to our success. Thank you, Sycuan!

Pictured from left to right are our Principle Office Staff and Board Members: Executive Director Dorothy Alther, Board Member Joe Ayala, Board Member Merri Lopez-Keifer, Board Member Sheila Quinlan, Board Chairman Mark Romero, Board Member Robert Gonzalez, Board Member Gabe Cayton, Board Member Victorio Shaw, Director of Administration Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, and Director of Marketing and Development Nicole Scott.

Pictured from left to right are our Principle Office Staff and Board Members: Executive Director Dorothy Alther, Board Member Joe Ayala, Board Member Merri Lopez-Keifer, Board Member Sheila Quinlan, Board Chairman Mark Romero, Board Member Robert Gonzalez, Board Member Gabe Cayton, Board Member Victorio Shaw, Director of Administration Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, and Director of Marketing and Development Nicole Scott.

 

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CPUC Adopts New Tribal Land Transfer Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Terrie Prosper, 415.703.1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov

 

SAN FRANCISCO, December 5, 2019 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today adopted a new policy that prioritizes land transfers from investor-owned utilities to Native American Tribes with a historical interest in the land.

Today’s decision provides Native American Tribes an opportunity to regain lands stolen through bias and unfair means in the late 1800s/early 1900s. When a utility tries to dispose of any interest in land that it owns, this policy states a preference that the land go to the native tribe to which the land belongs. Therefore, when the proposed transfer comes before the CPUC for its approval under Section 851 of the Public Utilities Code, this policy establishes an expectation that a transfer to an interested tribe is in the public interest.

The new policy complies with the CPUC’s existing Tribal Consultation Policy, which was adopted in April 2018 and recognized the following goals:

  • Recognition and respect for tribal sovereignty
  • Encouragement and facilitation of tribal participation in CPUC proceedings
  • Meaningful consideration to tribal interests in issues within the CPUC’s jurisdiction
  • Protection of tribal cultural resources

“Through the adoption of today’s Tribal Land Transfer Policy, the CPUC recognizes the important tribal interest in return of stolen lands and gives voice to meaningful consideration and prioritization of this important tribal interest,” said Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves.

Added Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, “Under the policy, utilities will offer tribes a first right of refusal to purchase any real property it is selling within the tribe’s ancestral territory, restoring historical, spiritual, and other significant land to the tribes. This can be a model for other state agencies.”

This policy builds on existing statute and two executive orders: Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-10-11 and Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-15-19. Last June, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-15-19 that recognized California’s history “fraught with violence, exploitation, dispossession, and the attempted destruction of tribal communities.” This policy, which the CPUC developed after comment from utilities and tribes, furthers the CPUC’s goals of recognizing and respecting native sovereignty, and of returning tribal lands to their rightful owners.

For more information on CPUC’s Tribal Consultation Policy, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov/tribal.

The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.

 

Shared from Turtle Talk

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CILS is Pleased to Announce the Recent Hire of Debra Avenmarg

Debra Avenmarg joins CILS as a Staff Attorney in the Eureka office. Debra will assist the tribes, Indian organizations, and native populations in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou, and Trinity.

Debra received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2010 and received a B.S. in Business and B.A. in Economics from Humboldt State University in 2005. Debra joins CILS with years of Child Welfare experience from many different roles and perspectives. In 2005, she volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for three foster youth, which inspired her to go to law school and practice Child Welfare Law. Debra has experience supervising visitation and transporting youth while working for a Foster Family Agency (FFA). She has also been a foster parent. She has advocated in the County role, and she has also represented parents, guardians, children, and Non-minor dependents in Child Welfare proceedings. Debra has worked in Lassen County, Marin County, and Humboldt County. Debra is excited to now have the opportunity to represent tribes.

“I am excited to join the CILS community. I look forward to utilizing my past experiences and perspectives to represent tribes and to further the purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act, Debra said. “I was drawn to CILS due to having passion for Child Welfare Law and also due to having an interest in furthering the rights of tribes. I am particularly excited about experiencing and practicing within tribal legal systems. I am looking forward to the opportunity to assist tribes in developing and implementing legal systems specially tailored towards the tribe’s unique values and needs.”

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CILS Announces the Recent Hire of Alexis Lindquist

Alexis Lindquist joins CILS as a Staff Attorney in the Escondido office. Alexis will assist the tribes, Indian organizations, and native populations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

“Through my clerkship with CILS, I learned the importance of providing legal aid services to low-income Native Americans,” Alexis said. “The services that CILS offers to these individuals give a sense of support to Native Americans when they don’t know where to start in their legal journey. Additionally, the broad range of projects that CILS takes part in is an integral part of the preservation and protection of tribal land, artifacts, and even ancestral remains. These play a significant role in maintaining cultural aspects within the Indian Community.”

Originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, Alexis graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Women’s Studies in 2006. While at ASU, Alexis took a Native American Women’s Studies course, which sparked her interest in American Indian Studies. Alexis then moved to San Diego and earned her J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2009. Alexis completed a Summer Clerkship position with California Indian Legal Services, which extended through the Fall semester. Upon graduating from law school and passing the Arizona bar exam, Alexis worked as a felony sex crimes prosecutor for Maricopa County for six years. She then moved to California, passed the California bar exam, and soon after was hired by California Indian Legal Services. In her spare time, Alexis loves to cook, practice yoga, walk her dog, and enjoy time outdoors with her family in beautiful Southern California.

Alexis is excited to re-join the California Indian Legal Services team and use her education and experience to advocate for both tribes and tribal members.

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